links for 2009-10-31

  • "Twitter Lists are a competitive social game, with users competing for attention. The question is whether they will remain and grow in value, or fade like blogrolls did.

    "Twitter lists have a major potential advantage over blogrolls. If users use them actively to manage their own attention, then they will be motivated to keep the lists current, since non-interesting people will clutter the followers own stream. It will be interesting to see how lists will continue serve those dual roles: managing attention and curating lists for public audiences. Will the criteria for display be the same as the criteria for personal use? Will the very early adopters, who are using lists for display, keep them up?"

  • "Over the last several months we have manually mapped more than 5,000 person name subject headings onto Freebase and DBPedia. And today we are pleased to announce the launch of http://data.nytimes.com and the release of these 5,000 person name subject headings as Linked Open Data.

    "So now you can visit http://data.nytimes.com/N66220017142656459133 and see that our “Colbert, Stephen” is equivalent to DBPedia’s http://dbpedia.org/resource/Stephen_Colbert and Freebase’s http://rdf.freebase.com/rdf/en.stephen_colbert. Even more importantly, your computer can visit http://data.nytimes.com/N66220017142656459133.rdf and get all of this information in a computer-readable Resource Description Framework (RDF) document"

  • Wow: If this report is correct, it's pretty infuriating:

    "pparently a long-term M/F/M/F poly quad with several children was doing what I've believed for a long time could be an entirely sensible solution to the burden of extended isolation and loneliness partners of deployed servicemen and servicewomen regularly have to endure. Both men were in the Army stationed at Ft. Campbell, KY, which straddles the Tennessee/Kentucky state line.

    "Tragically, one of the men has been killed in combat. As if this grieving family hadn't already been through enough, in the process of assigning survivor benefits the Army learned about the quad arrangement, decided to deny benefits to the widow and insisted on paternity testing to find out which man fathered the children – AND, the surviving husband in the quad faced a dishonorable discharge and loss of his career."

Making Twitter Lists more useful with filtering

Choose
Sometimes you don’t want EVERYTHING, just what you want. (Image by ervega via Flickr)

Today Twitter has begin a broad rollout of a new feature, Twitter Lists. The feature had been available only to a select group of beta users, but product manager Nick Kallen tweeted yesterday,Currently, 25% of all users have Lists.” I don’t have access to Lists yet, but I expect it’s coming soon.

The point of Twitter lists is relevant discovery: It’s an easy way to find and follow Twitter users you might not otherwise know about, but would be interested in. However, you might not be interested in everything (or even most things) a given Twitter user in a list has to say. This is more likely if you’re more interest in topics than people. In this case, Twitter lists might deliver more noise than signal.

But I think if you use a good tool like Tweetdeck for accessing Twitter (rather than just the Twitter site, which has always sucked for usability), you can combine Twitter Lists with filtering to end up with something very useful indeed, especially for staying abreast of news or topics… Continue reading

Citizen v. Pro Journalism: Division is Diversion

The house to the right is a small settlement, ...
What, exactly, are journalistic fences supposed to accomplish? (Image via Wikipedia)

Recently Kellie O’Sullivan, a third-year communication student studying at the University of Newcastle in Australia, asked me some questions about citizen journalism for a class assignment. I get questions like this a lot, so she said it was fine if I answered her in a blog post.

The way she framed her questions made me wonder: Why are folks from news organizations and journalism/communication schools still so hung up on building fences to divide amateur from professional journalism? Does this reflect insecurity about their own status/worth, or simply a lack of understanding of how much these endeavors mostly overlap and complement each other?

Seems to me that we’d all gain more by focusing on the practice of reporting and journalism (especially being transparent and open to discussion, correction, and expansion of news and information). In my opinion, doing journalism is more important than what kind of journalist you consider yourself to be, or how others label you.

With that caveat, here’s what she asked, and how I answered… Continue reading

links for 2009-10-28

  • "Zombie stocks, as they are called, such as Washington Mutual and Lehman Bros. may have vanished from the corporate landscape, but they are living, breathing and trading on financial markets.

    "Described by Investopedia as shares associated with companies that continue to operate even though they are insolvent or near bankruptcy, zombie stocks have surfaced anew, and the 50 percent recovery in the Dow continues to pump these equities with false hope.

links for 2009-10-27

  • "Tonight Google is launching a third option, a new feature that allows mobile users to move their voicemail away from their carrier and over to Google Voice. The benefits: your mobile voicemails go into your Google Voice inbox along with other voicemails and text messages, plus you can create custom greetings for callers and your voicemails are all automatically transcribed (sometimes hilariously)."
  • "Other utilities in the U.S., including CenterPoint, National Grid, San Diego Gas & Electric and Southern California Edison are looking at ways to use WiMAX in smart grid deployments. SDG&E, for example, wants to use WiMAX for 30 percent of the network where higher bandwidth is required for applications like collecting large amounts of data on voltage, current and frequency in real time."
  • "The nation’s top business lobby is going too far, and is abusing the DMCA takedown provisions, according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which is representing the Yes Men (.pdf) in the copyright dispute. EFF lawyer Matt Zimmerman fired back a response to the chamber Thursday, saying the pranksters would not voluntarily take down the page.

    “It’s hard to argue that this is not for purposes of commentary and criticism, which are protected,” Zimmerman said in a telephone interview.

    "A close read of the original release, which is not really by chamber president Thomas J. Donohue, makes it easy to conclude that it’s a fake, a hoax or a parody protected by copyright law, Zimmerman said. It does not matter that Reuters, The Washington Post, The New York Times, CNBC and others reported the fake news as real on Monday. The first question under a fair-use analysis under copyright law is: What is the nature and purpose of the work at issue.

  • A photo roundup of zombie walks

Integrate your brochure site into your blog (updated advice)

Recently I offered some advice for how small businesses and independent professionals who aren’t very tech-savvy could expand their existing simple brochure sites into sites that will actively help build their business.

…Because the way the internet works today, a static brochure site is like a car up on blocks: You can sit in it, you can show it to people — but it ain’t going far.

After discussing some issues in the comments to that post with my friend maiki interi (a talented and thoughtful Web developer), I’ve decided to correct an important piece of advice.

Originally I advised: “You can create a blog using a free service like WordPress.com and integrate that into any site.” Maiki correctly observed:

“Seems to me to be [that may be] massaging the truth, on a technical level. Of course it depends on what you mean by integration.”

I was thinking over what it would really take to integrate a blog into a static site. It can be done, but yeah, it’s a lot of hoops to jump through. Plus, there are many ways this integration could be done badly. Also, it’s not reasonable to expect a non-technical business person to know what to request from a web developer on this front.

So here’s what I’m going to recommend instead: Integrate your brochure site into a blog, not the other way around.

This does NOT means starting over from scratch. You can still use most or all of what your web designer originally built for you. However, you’ll be strapping it to an engine that will play nice with the internet and actually get your business moving.

This also does not mean your site has to look like a conventional blog. It can still mainly look like a brochure, if that’s what you want.

So here’s what the nontechnical people can do to reconfigure their brochure sites…

Continue reading

Nokia’s Newer, Dumber Business Model: Sue Apple

More than a year ago, in June 2008, I wrote about how Nokia’s clueless approach to serving the US smartphone market basically handed that market to Apple on a silver platter by the time the 3G iPhone launched.

Last week, GigaOm reported that Nokia is now suing Apple, claiming technology patent infringement. And on Oct. 15 CNET reported on Nokia’s dire slide in the US smartphone market.

According to GigaOm:

“Nokia is looking to collect patent royalties of 1 or 2 percent for each iPhone sold, according to a note from Piper Jaffray’s Gene Munster, which — given the roughly 34 million iPhone units already in the hands of users — would amount to $200 million-$400 million. That’s not a lot of money to either company, of course. But Nokia is clearly hoping it can be more successful in the courtroom than it’s been in the marketplace.”

Nokia: Really? Is this what you’ve sunk to?

There are far better ways. Here are some options… Continue reading

Expanding a business brochure site into something that will really help your business

To illustrate advertising and informational pa...
These days, brochures aren’t enough to make your business findable. (Image via Wikipedia)

If you’re a semi-retired professional who wants to build a consulting business, and you’re not an internet whiz, what kind of web site will really help clients find you? And how can you easily build and maintain a useful professional network?

My dad, Jack Gahran, is a semi-retired management consultant who knows many other semi-retired professionals. Today he asked me to look over the brand-new web site of a colleague of his, to offer some advice as to how it might be improved in ways that will build this person’s business.

The site is a pretty standard brochure site — a few static pages of basic information. It had a nice but simple design, and the content seemed to use keywords appropriately — both of which help search engines like Google index the site well. However, Google generally isn’t very interested in small brochure sites that are infrequently updated and don’t attract many inbound links.

I offered my dad’s colleague four basic tips for improving his site in ways that will make it much more visible in search engines, and thus more likely to attract inbound links from other sites (another thing Google rewards).

I get asked for this kind of advice a lot, so I figured I’d make a blog post out of it, so everyone can benefit.

Here’s what I told him…
Continue reading

links for 2009-10-23